In re Prosper Operators, Inc. is a case that was ultimately decided by the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It shows the tactics that vessel operators use to control the forum of a lawsuit. Read more to learn about a procedural weapon that can be used against you.
Mr. Navarre’s Personal Injury Case
Mitchell Navarre worked for Prosper Operators in Sweet Lake, Louisiana aboard the M/V AMBER. He got injured when he jumped from a stationary platform to a vessel. After the accident, he filed a petition for damages against Prosper in state court.
State court is generally viewed by vessel companies and their insurers as less friendly to them than federal court. They feel that in federal court they have better chances to win the case. So, Prosper Operators utilized the Limitation of Liability Act, which allows a vessel owner to get the seaman’s claim from state court to federal court under certain circumstances. Did Mr.Navarre protect his claim?
The Danger of the Limitation of Liability Act
The Fifth Circuit held that Prosper Operators failed to follow certain procedural requirements of the Limitation of Liability Act. This allowed Mr.Navarre to return to state court to prosecute his claims against his employer.
As any seaman, you have the choice to bring your injury claims in either state court or federal court. If the injury is serious enough, vessel employers will try to get your case from state court to federal court using the Limitation of Liability Act.
Is there a way to defeat the process? Turn to a maritime attorney with experience navigating the Limitation of Liability Act.